As HEDNA’s Global Distribution Conference quickly approaches, our industry is looking forward to diving into analyzing and learning about innovative solutions and the newest technologies that carry the potential to improve all aspects of the complex and rapidly-evolving hospitality ecosystem.

One look at the 2019 HEDNA agenda makes it clear that we’re about to embark on an exhilarating and illuminating time in Los Angeles. At the same time, there’s so much going on that it’s difficult to do everything. Therefore, I decided to offer my picks for the top must-see sessions at this year’s conference.

Keynote: Cracking the Gen Z Consumer Code with Jason Dorsey
(Day 3: 9:10am-10:00am)

The post-millennial Gen Z consumers are sometimes difficult to wrap our heads around, as this generation’s native technology results in a very different style of shopping and demands from a usability perspective. From the manner in which Gen Z communicates to their preferred payment options, researcher and keynote speaker Jason Dorsey will uncover the latest information about this generation’s expectations to help hotel operators in their quest to gain trust and loyalty from this critical demographic.

I have seen Jason speak before and chatted with him in detail: this is not to be missed!

HEDNA U 202: Engaging with the Guest: Management and Measurement 
(Day 1 during 1:45pm-3:15pm session)
HEDNA U 203: Engaging with the Guest: The Booking Process
(Day 1 during 11:15am-12:45pm session)

This year’s Engaging with the Guest series promises to deliver valuable insights into one of the key ingredients to success in the world of hospitality, as the title implies. The broad nature of effective guest engagement runs across these ongoing sessions throughout the conference, with each one providing a specific focus within this complex area. Management and Measurement will feature discussions about the essential skills involved in optimizing content to third parties while analyzing a range of advertising models and looking at various methods for accurately uncovering ROI as it relates to expenditures. The Booking Process session aims to inspire in-depth discussions around not only the booking decision but also the processing of information and connectivity to CRS/PMS functions. The session will include additional analysis and conversations about marketing, as well as looking at what’s most important in a mobile app.

HEDNA U 207: Direct Booking
(Day 1 during 1:45pm-3:15pm session)

Skift’s Senior Hospitality Editor, Deanna Ting, captures the core of direct booking in the following quote: “Whether you choose to view it as a war or not, it’s fairly unanimous that nearly every hotelier wishes he or she would have more direct bookings versus bookings made through an online travel agency.” While this excellent statement appears indisputable, how can hotel operators increase direct bookings of their rooms? The Direct Booking session at HEDNA should help to sort out this concept by opening up discussions about how the direct booking channel operates within the overall distribution framework.

HEDNA U 205: Channel Management
(Day 1 during 11:15am-12:45pm session)

The importance of efficient channel management cannot be overstated. The sheer number of online distribution options can be overwhelming at times, while a hotel operator’s decisions result in a monumental difference in ROI and global reach. HEDNA’s Channel Management session will attempt to tackle this difficult realm to look at the multitude of options available to today’s hoteliers while analyzing the various associated costs to unveil comprehensive assessment possibilities to implement.

Well, there you have it. While these are my top picks at HEDNA, there are a vast number of fascinating sessions to attend at this year’s conference. I’m greatly looking forward to networking, learning, and discussing the latest developments and future direction of our industry with the leading thinkers in hospitality. Hope to see you in Los Angeles!

Please share your thoughts about must-see sessions for HEDNA 2019 with me on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Andrew Sanders has held executive and sales leadership positions at global companies specializing in enterprise hospitality technology solutions for over 20 years.  Andrew began his career at McDonnell Douglas Information Systems in the UK, leading sales, development and project management of a leading domestic hotel central reservations software platform.  Still serving hospitality enterprise customers, he continued to lead the strategic development and large system sales of unified PMS-CRS solutions in the UK, eventually moving to the USA in 2000 with the acquisition of an NJ-based PMS solution vendor (M Corp).

He is currently VP of Travel & Hospitality for North America at DataArt, a global technology consultancy that designs, develops and supports software solutions in select industries.

At DataArt, Andrew leads initiatives in the areas of business strategy and innovation mainly in the hospitality technology sector.

About DataArt:

DataArt is a global technology consultancy that designs, develops and supports unique software solutions, helping clients take their businesses forward. Recognized for their deep domain expertise and superior technical talent, DataArt teams create new products and modernize complex legacy systems that affect technology transformation in select industries.

DataArt has earned the trust of some of the world’s leading brands and most discerning clients, including Nasdaq, S&P, Travelport, Ocado, artnet, Betfair, and Apple Leisure Group among others. Organized as a global network of technology services firms, DataArt brings together expertise of over 2,500 professionals in 20 locations in the US, Europe, and Latin America.